Wednesday, March 11, 2020

New Title, Same Gig?

Well, today threw me for a bit of a loop.

Why, might you ask?

Today I received a new title. For the first time in my software testing career, it can be argued how much of my role as a tester is left. For the past almost thirty years my job titles have been some variation of the following (I'm going to say since 1994 as from 1991-1994, I was a Network Lab Administrator and an Engineering Tech):

Software Tester
Development Test Engineer
Quality Assurance Engineer
Applications Engineer (Basically a Customer Test Engineer)
Senior Quality Assurance Engineer

So what's different today? As part of my review I was asked if I would accept a new job title:

Senior Automation Engineer

I said "yes" but I will confess, a part of me is curious as to what that acceptance means going forward? Actually, I don't have to guess too much, I know, as I've been part of this conversation for a number of years leading up to this.

What this means is that I agree to be spending the lions share of my day inside of an IDE.
What this means is I agree to create code that will be reviewed and put into daily use.
What this means is I agree to step into a development role and all that that entails.
Additional to all of this, I also agreed to transition onto another team, outside of the one I have worked with for the past seven years.

Yep, I have a mixture of emotions today.

Am I ready for this? I'd like to say I think so.
Do I want to do this? As a matter of fact, yes.
Do I know enough to do this? That remains to be seen, probably not completely.
Am I comfortable with this change? Ah, now we get to the heart of the matter.

See, in large part, I'm not comfortable with this change. I'm having to put down a large part of my identity that I have fostered over the past decade. The titles and pronouns I've become so used to are at once still relevant and now totally irrelevant. A part of me is anxious, a little scared, a little concerned I may be biting off more than I can chew, especially with that Senior part. That means I'm supposed to mentor juniors. As a developer. I will confess that part feels really weird.

And yes, even though I am not necessarily comfortable, I'm excited to do this. The expectation has changed. The primary focus of my efforts has, too. In part, I was singled out as, "that person that always champions trying new avenues, looking at things in unorthodox ways, and not settling for how things have always been done." Really? They paid attention to that? I guess so. They also paid attention to my frequent frustrations that real-life testing needs often trumped my ability to make much headway in the automation space because other needs were prioritized first. They listened. They decided to let other people handle those aspects so I could better focus on coding effectively.

Have I mentioned I'm not even going to be doing this in a language and toolset I'm used to? Yeah, let me touch on that for a second. I've been a Mac focused tester and programmer for 10 years now. I've used Ruby, Java, Perl, and Python to an extent in those years. Today I'm sitting behind a relatively new Windows 10 laptop running .NET Core, Visual Studio and wrapping my head around C# patterns. Surprisingly, I'm not running for the hills. It's different but it's not fundamentally so. Sure, there's some tooling and practices I have to come to grips with, as the last time I spent any real-time with a .NET application of any kind was 2010. It's all so very weird, like I'm having to speak Dorian Greek... but at least I feel like I'm coming from Ionian Greek rather than from, say, Japanese (weird comparisons but hey, welcome to my brain today ;) ).

Long story short, I just signed up to have my world rocked and I am strangely OK with it.

1 comment:

Chris Kenst said...

Welcome to the group!

The funny thing was moving from a test (or qa) engineer to an automation engineer isn't all the different, but the focus is. Now that your title specifically calls for it, it means a higher level of emphasis and responsibility.

I can't wait for you to start writing more about it!